Lemon verbena nestles among
my showy crimson roses and vibrant blue hydrangea,
its white-nearly-lavender flowers inconspicuous in the greenery.
It comes to my garden with a long history,
discovered long ago in Argentina and Chile,
brought by Spaniards in the 17th century to Europe,
named after Marie Louisa, Princess of Parma, wife of King Carlos II of Spain,
a royal crown its heritage.
Loved by writers of poetry and prose,
it came alive in the pages of books,
in L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island,
William Faulkner’s Unvanquished,
Louisa May Alcott’s An Old-fashioned Girl,
favored by Scarlett O’Hara’s mother in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind,
its literary heritage only part of its existence.
Its invigorating, lemon-scented green leaves and white flowers
flavor teas, sorbets, cookies and cakes,
scent perfumes and sachets,
refresh our lives.
Yet there it is nearly unnoticed
amid the splendor of the roses
and the breath-taking blooms of the hydrangea,
providing immeasurable daily joy.
Subtlety, it says, brings its own rewards.
© Barbara Flass 2011